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Child Abuse Prevention Month

The Department of Children and Families Northwest Region Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month
Events happening across the region to help raise awareness and prevent child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. All month long local partners, organizations, and businesses are hosting events to engage citizens in efforts to prevent abuse by promoting awareness, positive parenting practices and developing support systems within their communities.

"As part of the Northwest Region's system of care, it is vital that we continue to collaborate with our community and faith-based partners to support and protect the region's vulnerable children," said DCF Northwest Regional Director Vicki Abrams. "Whether you are a teacher, a first responder, or a person who interacts with children on a daily basis - you - along with the rest of our communities play a large role in preventing child abuse and I appreciate the hard work you do every day."

FamiliesFirst Network has created a coalition of child friendly organizations to share information. These groups arrange events under the From Blue to Better campaign to help raise awareness for child abuse prevention.

"This year, schools are planting pinwheel gardens, local businesses are allowing a casual day for employees to wear From Blue to Better t-shirts, local sponsors are hosting family friendly events in Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Escambia counties, and we have developed a website to provide parenting information as well as details about all the local events ," said Linda Roush, Director of Community Relations for FamiliesFirst Network.

DCF is also participating in the statewide Pinwheels for Prevention campaign which is part of a national movement to change the way we think about child abuse prevention by focusing on healthy child development.

"The campaign symbol, a blue and silver pinwheel, is a reminder of the happy childhoods and bright futures that all children deserve, as well as the important role we each play in ensuring every child has an equal opportunity for healthy growth and development," Anita Odom, Director of the Prevention Services Unit at the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida and Executive Director of PCA Florida said.

"Every Spring we take time to cherish and renew our commitment to protecting children from abuse," said Mike Watkins, CEO for Big Bend Community Based Care which serves communities from Jefferson to Holmes counties . "I applaud the good people in our community that support, protect, mentor, foster and adopt children."

Stimulating and nurturing environments improve a child's cognitive, psychological, behavioral and physical well being, while neglectful or abusive experiences depress mental and physical growth, as indicated by the Child Welfare Information Gateway's 2012 Research Guide. This data also provides evidence that parents and caregivers who have supportive social networks are better equipped to provide safe and nurturing environments for their children.

DCF has also launched a #PinwheelsforPrevention project on Pinterest. Make sure to visit,     www.MyFLFamilies.com/PinterestPinwheels <http://www.MyFLFamilies.com/PinterestPinwheels     to find out how you can get involved and show your support for child abuse prevention.

    Child Abuse Prevention events in the Northwest Region:
    April 1 - Panama City - Child Abuse Prevention Month Kick-Off
    April 4 - Pensacola - Gallery Night
    April 5 - Tallahassee - Pinwheels in the Park
    April 5 - Tallahassee - Brehon's Family Walk
    April 5 - Pensacola - KlaasKids Print-A-Thon
    April 16 - Pensacola - Walk In My Shoes
    April 19 - Panama City - Lauren's Kids Walk/Easter Egg Hunt

For additional information on events happening across the region visit:
http://frombluetobetter.org/local-events or http://www.bigbendcbc.org/About-Us/Calendars-News-Events

For information on statewide events visit:     www.ounce.org/capevents.html <http://www.ounce.org/capevents.html    .

If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, report online at     www.FloridaAbuseHotline.org
<http://www.FloridaAbuseHotline.org     or call 1-800-962-2873.